Briefing on Planned Cuts at Human Services Dept on Maui

February 25, 2010, 4:13 PM HST · Updated February 25, 4:21 PM
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By Wendy Osher

The legislative Committee on Human Services will hold an informational briefing on Maui Thursday afternoon (February 25, 2010) to discuss planned cuts at the State Department of Human Services.

Under the Plan, the State’s Eligibility Processing Operations Division would consolidate facilities in Honolulu and Hilo, where the greatest number of workers are located.

Human Service employees on Maui say the streamlining of services will impact Welfare and Med Quest offices on the Valley Isle leaving no physical offices in Kauai or Maui Counties.

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Those opposed to the plan say there will be adverse impacts on families, individuals, the disables, elderly and DHS State workers.  Rep.John Mizuno, the chair of the Committee on Human Services responded to the plan saying, “We understand the fiscal shortfall the state is currently facing.  We need to collaboratively and prudently work with the administration, the Department workers, the providers, clients, and legislature in navigating through this difficult time.  I anticipate widespread negative impacts if DHS goes through with eliminating 232 employees who provide vital services to over 66,000 needy residents,” said Mizuno.

Earlier this month, in a letter dated February 10, 2010 from DHS Director Lillian Koller to the HGEA Director Randy Perreira, Koller said, “Rather than engage in meaningful consultation, HGEA has chosen to wildly speculate about the potential numbers of office closures and employee layoffs.”  Koller accused the HGEA of creating “needless stress and confusion” among DHS employees, their families and clients.

In a fact sheet issued by DHS, the document states, “Under the new system, residents could apply for benefits online or by phone, fax or email.  Residents could also receive help in-person at community social service agencies, health clinics and DHS offices statewide.”

State Representative John Mizuno will be on Maui for the briefing set to run from 5 to 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday, February 25, 2010, at the HGEA Maui Division office on Kaohu Street in Wailuku.

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